Recently I saw a news report about a young man who applied and was accepted to sixty-five colleges. Yes, sixty-five colleges. Kudos to this young man for being accepted to all of the colleges to which he applied. It is without a doubt a testament to his hard work as well as his intellectual and extracurricular accomplishments. I have to admit upon hearing this story, I immediately started calculating what such a feat would cost ($2600-$5200!!) as I was considering the reasons he would need to apply to so many colleges.
A question I am frequently asked is, “Do you think my list is too long?” Typically my answer is no and most recently, I respond with, “Your list will be a little longer as a result of the pandemic”. Unable to participate in traditional campus tours, future college students are relying on virtual tours and information sessions to determine if a college is a good fit for them. They are missing out on seeing students on campus who are like or unlike them- as well as getting a feel for the vibe, the pulse of the campus. When I say college application lists may be more extensive this year, I mean perhaps fifteen colleges instead of twelve. The college list should consist of three to four target schools and two to three safety and reach schools. More importantly, each college on the list should be a school the applicant wants to attend. The college list should not be composed of schools a student has no intention of attending if accepted. Applying to a college just to see if an acceptance will be the outcome is essentially placing another applicant on a wait list or perhaps even denying them from an opportunity to attend their dream school.
Students have started working on college applications they will begin submitting to meet early action deadlines. Before hitting the send button, ask yourself, “Why am I applying to this school?” Is it because the college is a good fit for you or the prestige of saying you were accepted? The Common App and Coalition for College have made it easier to submit applications to multiple colleges. To prevent students from submitting too many applications, the Common App limits students to twenty applications. Having trouble narrowing down your college list? Take advantage of virtual information sessions and tours. Connect with current students attending colleges on your list through the admissions office and learn about their experience. Use tools like Niche and Campus Tours which rank colleges and provide potential applicants with feedback from enrolled students. With over 4,000 colleges in the United States, students have a lot of options. Set a limit and choose carefully. What will your number be?